Army team rides into rodeo finals
December 13, 2006
LAS VEGAS (Army News Service, Dec. 13, 2006) - Whether riding tanks into battle or bucking animals in a rodeo, Army team members show courage no matter what the foe.
Three bull riders, seven cowboys and a cowgirl represented the Army during the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association Championship at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas Nov. 30 through Dec. 9.
The NFR is considered one of the world's premier rodeos, and some consider it to be the sport's "Super Bowl," where the top 15 contestants in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding events compete for eight world championships and the gold buckle and saddle that go along with each title.
The 120 contestants in the 10-day event at University of Nevada - Las Vegas' Thomas and Mack Center competed for than $5 million in prize money. More than 175,000 fans attended the event, while more than 10 million viewers watched on television.
"Everybody who made sacrifices to get me here, I can't thank enough," said Trevor Brazile, Army sponsored rider, who picked up his fourth All-Around Cowboy world title. "Wrapping up the all-around and setting a new earnings record makes it worth all the work I put into it. The sacrifices weren't in vain.
"I would especially like to thank the Army and all of the Soldiers serving around the world," Brazile added. "You make it all worthwhile, and I am proud to represent you."
Brazile set the PRCA's single-season earnings of $329,924 in 2006, breaking Matt Austin's previous record of $320,766 in 2005.
"This rodeo brings the best of the best in one place, and I can't think of any place I would rather be than here tonight," Tranquillo added. "All of the riders did great, and I was glad to see Trevor (Brazile) win for the Army. It was a great finish for a great rodeo. God bless America."
Other Army team riders placed in their respective events. In the All-Around Cowboy category, Army teammate Fred Whitfield finished sixth. In the saddle bronc riding category, Cody DeMoss finished in second place. In the calf roping event, Brazile took third place and in the barrel racing category, Brittany Pozzi ended her year in second place.
<b>Soldiers add special touches</b>
Besides having riders in the event, the Army was well represented as Special Forces Soldiers rappelled from the roof and members of the 82nd Airborne Division "All American" Chorus kicked off the final round Dec. 9 by singing the national anthem. Riders of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment's Horse Detachment also entered the arena with a U.S. flag.
A record crowd of 18,224 showed its support to heroes who recently returned from combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Four Soldiers from the 11th ACR received a standing ovation from their fellow countrymen.
"Being here at the PRCA national finals, the Super Bowl of rodeo, is a tremendous opportunity for us to be in front of wonderful, supportive people of the United States Army and American military," said Sgt. Samuel Wendt, chorus director and member of the 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. "It is just wonderful for me to be standing here and giving back something to those who support us so much."
Fans were impressed with the chorus and were ready to see Army riders win and represent servicemembers around the world.
"I was very impressed with the Army chorus," said Paul Tranquillo, a rodeo fan from Ventura, Calif. "A feeling of patriotism swept through the arena, and there were very few dry eyes when they sang our national anthem. They were very professional and made me proud to be an American."
(Jason B. Cutshaw writes for the Fort Drum Blizzard.)